Novel organizational culture

Joseph Reagle


What’s novel about Zappos?

Good idea??

What could go right?

What could go wrong?

How Netflix reinvented HR

Trust people, not policies. Reward candor. And throw away the standard playbook (McCord 2014)

“I’ve learned that I’d rather work by myself than with subpar performers,” he said. … The best thing you can do for employees – a perk better than foosball or free sushi – is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else.

Concept connections??

Good idea??

What could go right?

What could go wrong?

Hire, Reward, and Tolerate Only Fully Formed Adults

  • 97% of your employees do the right thing; dealing with the 3% who do not take most of HR’s times and resources
  • take appropriate vacation (30 days+ requires discussion), not at busy times; senior leaders urged to take holiday and let people know about them

Tell the Truth About Performance

  • Avoid humiliating ritual of PIP (Performance Improvement Plans)
  • informal 360-degree reviews.
  • no formal expense policy, responsibility of managers (kept an eye on IT guys given penchant for gadgets)

Managers Own the Job of Creating Great Teams

  • no bonuses, “A” players should be engaged by work and compensated with market rates learned through talking to recruiters;
  • percent of equity chosen by employees;

Leaders Own the Job of Creating the Company Culture

  1. mismatches values (playing pool or efficiency)
  2. understand the levers that drive the business (costs outrun revenue)
  3. split personality start-up (engineers vs sales)

Good Talent Managers Think Like Business people and Innovators First, and Like HR People Last

  • job is not to be “chief happiness officer” but to align employees with high performance goals of the business

Here’s a simple test: If your company has a performance bonus plan, go up to a random employee and ask, “Do you know specifically what you should be doing right now to increase your bonus?” If he or she can’t answer, the HR team isn’t making things as clear as they need to be.

Ex: Radical U

Design a recruitment and retention culture/policy for students that learn and perform well.


Concluding questions?